Wellington woman conquers Coast-to-Coast

22:17, Feb 15 2014
Jess Simson
LONGEST DAY: Jess Simson crosses the finish line of the Speights Coast to Coast Women's one day individual event.

Jess Simson, 29, winner of the prestigious women's coast to coast multi-sport event from Kumara on the West Coast to Christchurch is a born and bred Wellingtonian.

Simson, who relegated previous champion Elina Ussher to second spot by 13 minutes 45 seconds in yesterday's event, was raised in Miramar.

She was educated at Holy Cross School in Wellington's Eastern Suburbs and went on to St Mary's College in Wellington before finishing her secondary schooling with a year at Wellington Girls College.

Jess and Hazen Simson
MADE IT: Jess Simson is comforted by her husband Hazen after winning the Speights Coast to Coast Women's one day individual event.

After spending three seasons as a ski patroller in Alberta - two at Nakiska and one at Lake Louise - Simson returned to her Miramar home where she graduated with a B.Com from Victoria University in 2009.

She is the wife of Wanaka businessman Hazen Simson, whom she met while ski patrolling in Alberta. The couple live in Wanaka.

Another Wanaka-based athlete Braden Currie defended his title in the men's event, a 240km bike, run and kayak from Kumara on the West Coast to Sumner Beach in Christchurch.


Simson was introduced to multi-sporting by her parents, Martin and Vicki Donoghue, who have a central North Island ski house in Raetihi.

As a youngster she learned to climb and ski on Mount Ruapehu.

The Tongariro National Park became her playground and from an early age she regularly climbed the central North Island's highest peaks.

After leaving school, the former Harbour City waterpolo player in Wellington,  graduated as a ski patroller in Wanaka.

In her younger days during the ski season she would climb to the summit of Mt Ruapehu above the Turoa skifield and then ski down to the Knoll Ridge Café on the Whakapapa skifield for morning tea.

She would then repeat the ski/climb and return to the Top of The Giant cafe on Mt Ruapehu's Turoa skifield for lunch.

It was no surprise therefore when Simson won The Goat, the infamous mountain race on Mt Ruapehu between the Whakapapa and Turoa skifields, in a record time for a woman last year.

Earlier in 2013 she won the two day coast to coast in a race record time last February. She gave up her Wanaka job with the Department of Conservation in 2012 to became a professional athlete, successfully competing in a number of overseas international events in 2013.

Simson will return home to Wellington from Wanaka to celebrate her 30th birthday on February 26.

She then has plans to travel to China with Braden Currie to compete in an international multi-sport event there next month.

The Dominion Post